Psychology Professors Diane Halpern and Piercarlo Valdesolo Honored by the Association for Psychological Science

Halpern's award in May will recognize a lifetime of outstanding contributions; Valdesolo's designates him as a groundbreaking researcher.

She is a recent presenter at TEDxClaremontColleges, an award-winning scholar, and past president of the American Psychological Association; he is a fairly newish professor at CMC (since 2011), co-author of Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us (Harmony, 2011), and runs the Moral Emotions and Trust Lab––aka the MEAT Lab––at CMC, where students get to ask interesting questions like, What makes people act hypocritically? Why and when do we feel compassion for those in need? How do individuals and institutions regain trust after moral failings?

“She” is Diane Halpern, the McElwee Family Professor of Psychology and George R. Roberts Fellow, and “he” is Piercarlo Valdesolo, assistant professor of psychology. In May, Halpern will receive the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science, for a lifetime of outstanding contributions in the area of applied psychological research. The award will be presented at the Association’s 25th annual convention Memorial Day weekend (May 23-26) in Washington, D.C.

Valdesolo also has just been identified by the Association for Psychological Science as a “Rising Star,” a designation placing him among an impressive cohort of individuals who, in the early stages of their careers, are conducting “groundbreaking psychological science.”

As such, Valedesolo will be profiled in the APS Observer publication online, as part of a series on up-and-coming researchers in the field. Other “Rising Stars” have included scholars from Princeton, Washington, Duke, and Indiana universities. Valdesolo’s work has been praised by Halpern for its creativity in exploring ways that emotions shape the social mind at both the conscious and unconscious level–– with a particular emphasis on its role in moral decision-making and behavior.

Before coming to CMC, Halpern worked in the department of psychology at California State University in San Bernardino. At CMC, in addition to her teaching duties, she was the first director of the Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children.

During the May ceremony honoring her with an APS lifetime achievement award, she will present to attendees on the topic of “The Psychological Science Behind Hyperpartisanship, and What to Do About It.”

According to Halpern, “Our government is broken. Negativity toward Congress is at an all-time high with hyperpartisanship as the new bigotry in the United States.

“I will use the lens of psychological science to view the problem and to suggest corrective actions that we can take to reduce it,” she said.

Halpern received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, her M.A. from Temple University and her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.

In 1995, she was part of an 11-member APA task force led by Ulric Neisser which published Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, a report written in response to The Bell Curve. She has also written on cognitive differences between men and women. In her work, she suggests a biopsychosocial model offers superior insight into cognitive sex differences than a simple nature-vs-nurture dichotomy. Another topic of her research is risks associated with left-handedness.

During the course of her distinguished and busy career, Halpern has won many awards for her teaching and research, including the George A. Miller Award for “outstanding journal article in psychology” from the Society for General Psychology, Division 1, American Psychological Association; the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor Award, University of Iowa; the 2002 Outstanding Professor Award from the Western Psychological Association and the Distinguished Career Award for Contributions to Education given by the American Psychological Association, among many others.

The Association for Psychological Science (previously the American Psychological Society) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level. The Association’s mission is to promote, protect, and advance the interests of scientifically oriented psychology in research, application, teaching and the improvement of human welfare.